The Silver Chair
The Silver Chair takes place about a year after the events of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace Scrubb and his new friend, Jill Pole, travel back to Narnia to rescue the missing Prince Rilian, son of King Caspian. When Aslan, the great lion, gives Jill specific instructions in order to save the prince, we follow their adventure through the land and into the deepest pits to face a familiar enemy.
September 7, 1953
The Silver Chair takes place around a year after the events of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace Scrubb and his new friend, Jill Pole, travel back to Narnia to rescue the missing Prince Rilian, son of King Caspian. The book was adapted to a BBC TV series in 1990. It is also currently being filmed to show in theaters in 2018 as a sequel to the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie released in 2010. The director, Joe Johnston, hopes to launch the next trilogy, which will bring a lot of popularity to C. S. Lewis’s novels in the near future.
Violence: There is no gore or graphic content. All fight scenes are non-graphic and appropriate for a children’s novel. The heroes find out the giants have eaten a speaking animal and have served it for dinner. In Narnia, this is akin to eating a person.
Sexual Content: There is no sexual content.
Drug/Alcohol Use: There is no drug or alcohol use.
Spiritual Content: The book is full of content representative of biblical truths and teachings. A good example is the list of instructions given to Jill Pole for her to remember and practice. This represents many passages which encourage the use and application of God’s Word, especially Deuteronomy 11:18: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads… .”
Language/Crude Humor: No language or crude humor is used.
Other Negative Content: There is a scene where an enemy shape shifts into a giant snake that may be scary for younger children. While in the giants’ community, the heroes discover that the giants plan on eating them for a feast. This is found out in passing with no graphic content, but is meant to be a scary scene.
Positive Content: The characters represented in the book come from many different backgrounds and have many different views. Having such a diverse cast of characters, both humanoid and animal alike, encourages the reader to think and explore different perspectives.
The story begins at Experiment House in England. Eustace Scrubb finds a classmate, Jill Pole, crying and hiding from the school’s bullies. While Eustace tells Jill about the events of last year when he traveled to Narnia for the first time, they are discovered and must escape a group of bullies. They run through a door and suddenly find themselves on one of the highest mountains in the land of Aslan, the great lion.
After Jill and Eustace are separated by an unfortunate event, Aslan finds Jill and gives her very specific instructions for her to follow. The lion warns her that if she does not recite and work hard to remember these instructions, it will mean the failure of their mission.
Aslan ferries them to an elaborate castle in Narnia where they see an aged king beginning to sail away to sea. The children do not recognize their friend, King Caspian, who is now in his final years. They discover from Glimfeather, an owl of the court, that King Caspian is planning to travel to the Oracle in a last attempt to find the whereabouts of his missing son and heir, Prince Rilian, who disappeared many years previously.
Glimfeather assists them in preparing them for the long journey and offers the assistance of Puddleglum, an uncommonly cheerful marsh-wiggle. Eustace and Jill are now in a race against time to find Prince Rilian before King Caspian’s passing.
C. S. Lewis is an author and speaker for Christian theology and biblical truths. The Chronicles of Narnia series are an excellent example of his spiritual writings symbolically written in a fantasy world. A good example is the list of instructions given to Jill Pole for her to remember and practice daily.
This is a direct representation of Deuteronomy 11:18 “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” and many other passages encouraging use to practice and application God’s word. Jill does fail to follow these instructions, but Aslan is presented as the wise Guide who demands obedience yet patiently forgives those who go astray.
The major theme in The Silver Chair concerns following truth versus following falsehoods which often appear to be true. As Aslan tells Jill in the second chapter, “Pay no attention to appearances. Remember the Signs and believe the Signs. Nothing else matters.”
Examples of false appearances in the book include the disguise of the witch, the duplicity of the gentle giants, and the children’s misreading of the gnomes. Other themes include resurrection, encouragement, and the shortcomings of “progressive” education. The book also includes a wonderful picture of the “fountain of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6).
Along with the rich symbolism that I encourage every reader to explore, C. S. Lewis has a great talent for being straightforward when writing and keeping a good pace to the book. Because of this, the book can easily be read in one sitting and can be enjoyed multiple times.
While some aspects may seem very juvenile to the adult reader, C. S. Lewis specifically wrote his books to be enjoyed by an array of audiences, not just the young readers. A quality that I find very respectable in his writings. It is very rare these days to find such all-encompassing stories.
One negative aspect of the book is that the pace of reading is interrupted by the characters’ sometimes silly decision making. When the reader finds themselves enraptured in the story, they can find themselves stopping short at Jill and Eustace’s unrealistic bickering or a decision that we think we ourselves would never make. This interruption to the flow of reading can dissuade some readers from finishing, but I assure you the story is worth sticking with to the end.
C. S. Lewis doesn’t fail to please with his fourth installment of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Packed with adventure, likeable characters, and a mystery that thickens with each chapter, The Silver Chair is an excellent addition to anyone’s reading list. I would especially recommend it to anyone who likes a classic fantastical adventure.
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+ Fast paced adventure story
+ Likeable and relatable characters
+ Full of biblical truths and symbolism
+ A story for all ages
- Reading pace interrupted by characters' decision making